July 13, 2017
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) urges the Attorney General’s Chamber to drop the charge of “obstructing a public servant” against human rights lawyer Siti Kasim. We also call on the Malaysian government to end discriminatory laws, policies, and practices against the transgender community, and further comply with international human rights standards.
Drop the charge against Siti Kasim
Siti Kasim is a prominent woman human rights lawyer known for her advocacy for indigenous, women’s, and LGBT rights. On 13th June 2017, she was charged for allegedly “obstructing a public servant” under Section 186 of the Penal Code.
This occurred after she questioned the legitimacy of a raid conducted by Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) officers on a private transgender event. Siti Kasim had identified herself as a lawyer and was conducting her professional duties as an advocate and solicitor at the event.
On 23rd June 2017, Siti Kasim pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released on bail. The next court hearing is scheduled for 22nd August 2017. If convicted, she faces up to two years in prison, a maximum fine of RM 10,000 or both.
The charge against Siti Kasim is an affront to the independence of the legal profession. The charge would set a chilling precedent that undermines lawyers’ ability to defend their clients’ rights without fear of arrest and prosecution. The independence of lawyers to freely conduct their professional duties is fundamental to protecting human rights, upholding the rule of law, and administering justice.
We urge the Attorney General’s Chamber to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Siti Kasim.